I have several Christmas traditions. Some of them are strange, such as having a Chinese for dinner on Christmas Eve, but most of them are perfectly normal, such as always going to get our Christmas tree with my mum. One of my more modern traditions is heading to the Waterfront for Ireland in Christmas Praise, presented by New Irish Arts.
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I first visited Katch 27 in Kircubbin in May with Maria, the niece of our former Spanish neighbours. She was boarding in Victoria College and my parents became her guardians when our neighbours, Pilar and Alejandro, moved back to Spain.
Alejandro and Pilar are over staying with us for a few days and following Maria’s positive comments about Katch 27, we decided to take them there for Sunday lunch.
Pilar, Alejandro, mum, dad and me
It would be impossible to not realise that A and AS Level results have been
published today and that GCSE results are to be published next week. As we are getting used to hearing every year, I am sure that UK pupils will again have “excelled” across the country and many will go on to further study at a university or college. But why does everyone put so much emphasis on results?
Bergen, a day on board and heading home.
Day 9 – Bergen
Today brought mixed emotions as it was our last port of call, this time to Norway’s second largest city, Bergen. Once off the boat we headed to the funicular railway station for a journey up to the top of Floyen, one of the mountains overlooking the city. The railway is one of the most visited attractions in Norway and attracts over one million visitors annually.
Alesund by car and Geiranger.
Day 7 – Alesund
We were again up early for our second port of all, Ålesund. We had hired a car here so headed off the boat and made towards the Avis office.
The guy behind the desk greeted us with the words “we don’t have the car you ordered” and before we had the chance to get annoyed, he said he has a bigger car than the one I had picked.
It was outside to check over the car before working out how to drive on the left hand side of the road. It took me a few stop signs to get used to the handbrake being on my right hand side but I eventually got there.
Boarding the ship, a day at sea and my first visit to Norway and the village of Eidfjord.
Day 4 – to the boat
We were up at 6am to finish packing and to grab a quick breakfast before heading back to Amsterdam Centraal Station to get the train to Rotterdam. Despite it being early on a Sunday morning, there was a train to Rotterdam every 15 minutes which was impressive.
We arrived in Rotterdam at about 8:30am and headed to the left luggage area to drop off our suitcases. We then made for the tourist information point in the station where the lady suggested getting the bus tour, which is usually a good idea whatever city you are in.
After our tour we were back at the station so we headed back to get our cases before getting on the tour bus again for another half loop back to the cruise ship terminal.
Following on from my Halloween, our summer holiday this year was another cruise, this time around Norway. This time we decided on Holland America Line, out of Amsterdam. This was mainly due to the price but it was a fortunate coincidence that the cruise was on the MS Koningsdam which was only launched in May 2016.
We again booked through the Lisburn Road branch of Oasis Travel. Every time we travel with Oasis we are continually impressed, and I would highly recommend them to anyone.
Looking at flights to Amsterdam, it quickly became apparent that it was considerably cheaper to fly out a few days before hand. Our Norway adventures therefore began with a Thursday afternoon flight to Amsterdam and a few days stay at the Hotel Rokin.
On 1st September 1976 a newly qualified teacher started their first teaching job in Ballykinler Primary School in Newcastle, Co Down. In early 1977 they were back at home in Belfast when they asked the then Principal of Finaghy Primary, Robert Brown, if there were any jobs at the school. It turned out there was and this teacher started in FPS in September 1977, teaching P5. It was the same school that they had attended as a child so they had come full circle as it were.
Picture the scene … its dawn 72 years ago … the date is 6th June 1944 – D-Day. The average age of your friends to your left and right is around 22. You board a landing craft for the journey to France. Not only are you faced with a journey in an uncomfortably warm landing craft for over an hour, once there you are told you have a survival rate of around 50% or 60%. At Utah and Omaha, the first wave of attack had a survival rate of 20% to 30%. And that is if you even make the beach. Once there you will face “Hell on Earth”.